In anticipation of war an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the formation of a voluntary fire service to supplement the regular Fire Brigade. The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) was formed in January 1938.
The London Fire Brigade had only 2,500 officers and firemen at the time and it was thought that the AFS would need to recruit and train over 25,000 unpaid part-time volunteers. Since most young men had joined the armed forces, the AFS had to rely on those too old or young for military service. For the first time, women were accepted into the Brigade.
In August 1941 the Auxiliary Fire Service and the local fire brigades were amalgamated into the National Fire Service.
Men with Lewisham connections who died while serving with the AFS :
- Brazier, John William Frederick
- Burch, John Henry
- Miller, Arthur William
- Whipps, Charles William
In addition Auxiliary Firewomen Annie Matilda Wilkins and Bessie Constance Wulbern were awarded the British Empire Medal.